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The Pentangle - The Pentangle CD (album) cover


The Pentangle


Prog Folk

3.88 | 56 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars Pentangle's debut album is an outstanding and groundbreaking release for the times , as this was 68 . Folk had just experienced a revival in the early part of the decade and Dylan had launched folk-rock with his groundbreaking Highway 61 Revisited just a few years after. In Europe a Scotsman Donovan Leitch had become UK's answer to Dylan and had tremendous success. At the time of that Dylan H61R album, two Scotsman John Renbourn and Bert Jansch were both renowned folk artist a bit in the Raconteur-Troubadours tradition and had released a few albums each. Three other Scotsmen had also formed the Incredible String Band who had an outstanding series of three albums developing more than just Folk rock but mixing some psychedelic twist, other traces of medieval folk and Indian classical music. Somehow, one could not really say that they fitted well with other folk rock artist from The Byrds to Fairport Convention.

Then the two Raconteur-Troubadours decided to join forces (they had already collaborated in an album to both their names) and created The Pentangle with another Scots Jaqui McShee, with a superb voice as well Danny Thompson (who would become one of the best Contrabass player in the world) and solid drummer Cox. With this debut album, they struck right on the button and the opening track is a real statement of what is to come next; Although only a cover of a standard trad folk, you just know you are in for a real trip right from the bowed bass drones to the glistening McShee vocals and subtle twin electric guitars that will highlight the rest of the album. The music is a delightful mix of Jazz, Blues and Folk, a real fusion of the three, so much so that the end result instantly pleased a rock crowd. The average progheads must not look too hard at finding the usual traits the he expects from progressive music, but really know that the Pentangle was truly a groundbreaking act, much more so than say Fairport Convention and they deserve to be called progressive folk. But the intense chemistry that bound those five musicians is so awesome that the communicative interplaying is so complete that you would never swear this was a debut album. The lengthiest track on the record Pentangling is the perfect example to illustrating this with some excellent improvisation from the two guitarists.

One of the strength of Pentangle is that they have three justified lead singers but both Jansch and Renbourn have fairly similar voice timbre that it is rather hard to know which one of the two is signing), but none want to take the spotlight alone and the many songs where they share vocals duties (as if such a trio would call those gorgeous harmonies a duty - they would certainly say it was a pleasure) with such ease and perfect sense of collaboration that you'd swear they were doing this from the crib. The classic Bruton Town is a real gem to show you this point. Among the other highlights is Waltz, which sounds like it should've been played with a banjo (the instrument is present on Pentangle album), but we are so content with that great acoustic guitar interrupted by a bass solo, that signals up that Thompson may just be the backbone of the band.

The debut album is certainly a real stunner for the times but hardly their only worthy album: they will have no less than six outstanding albums in a row, before stopping the studio recordings, but Pentangle will record many live albums after that under different line-ups. All of those six albums are of such quality that they all rank between 3,5 stars to 4,5 stars.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |


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